– Obese children can’t taste as well so eat larger portions to get the same taste hit, a study found. Compared to normal weight children, those who are obese have less sensitive taste-buds which blunts the ability to distinguish all five tastes of bitter, sweet, salty, sour, and umami – savoury. So to compensate for the lack of taste sensation, they gorge on more food to get the same pleasure. The study, from the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, looked at 94 normal weight and 99 obese children aged between 6 and 18, who were in good health and not taking any medications known to affect taste and smell.The taste sensitivity of every child was tested using 22 ‘taste strips’ placed on the tongue, to include each of the five taste sensations, at four different levels of intensity, plus two blank strips. They were then asked to sum up all five taste sensations at the four different intensities out of a score of 20. Overall the children were best able to differentiate between sweet and salty, but found it hardest to distinguish between salty and sour, and between salty and savoury. And obese children found it significantly more difficult to identify the different taste sensations, scoring an average of 12.6 compared with an average of just over 14 clocked up by children of normal weight. Obese children were significantly less likely to identify the individual taste sensations correctly, particularly salty, savoury and bitter. And while both obese and normal weight children correctly identified all the differing levels of sweetness, obese kids rated three out of the four intensity levels lower than kids of normal weight. As normal weight children got older their ability to differentiate between the taste sensations improved, but this did not happen with obese children.
So this is the excuse now? It’s no longer ‘big bones’ or ‘low metabolism’, it’s that their tongues are too fat and dull to taste anything so they eat three times as much to compensate? Good work, parents.
For me, this is a simple chicken-and-the-egg situation that science has totally backwards. It isn’t that some kids have crappy taste buds so they eat more, it’s that fat kids have eaten themselves into crappy taste buds. If you don’t think McDonald’s is using its billion-dollar scientists to develop food that makes your taste buds only want McDonald’s then you’re just a straight-up sucker. That hot apple pie and two cheeseburger meal seemed like a good idea at the time, but when you’re 35 and can’t tell the difference between broccoli and asparagus have fun eating beef Snack Wraps every day until they kill you.